Neuroprotective role of melatonin in oxidative stress vulnerable brain.Indian J Physiol Pharmacol. 2003 Oct; 47(4):373-86.IJ
The brain is deficient in oxidative defense mechanisms and hence is at greater risk of damage mediated by reactive oxygen species (ROS) resulting in molecular and cellular dysfunction. Emerging evidence suggesting the activation of glutamate gated cation channels, may be another source of oxidative stress, leading to neuronal degeneration. Oxidative stress has been implicated in the development of neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinsonism, Alzheimer's disease, Huntington's disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, epileptic seizures, and stroke. Melatonin, the pineal hormone, acts as a direct free radical scavenger and indirect antioxidant. It is suggested that the increase in neurodegenerative diseases is attributable to a decrease in the levels of melatonin with age. Melatonin has been shown to either stimulate gene expression for the antioxidant enzymes (superoxide dismutase, catalase, glutathione peroxidase, glutathione reductase) or to increase their activity. Additionally, it neutralizes hydoxyl radical, superoxide radical, peroxyl radical, peroxynitrite anion, singlet oxygen, hydrogen peroxide, nitric oxide, and hypochlorous acid. Unlike other antioxidants, melatonin can easily cross all morphophysiological barriers, e.g., the blood brain barrier, and enters cells and subcellular compartments. Though evidence are accumulating to suggest the potential of melatonin in neurodegenerative conditions, much information needs to be generated before the drug can find place in neurology clinics.